A writ is the court’s command to an authority or a person to either perform an action or refrain from doing it. Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is just another writ but in the interest of the public. A PIL relates to the general public, unlike a writ and it is generally signed upon by a number of people.
Simply put, all PILs are writs but not all writs are PILs.
Let us board a chopper and circle around the key differences between a writ and public interest litigation.
- Supreme Court issues the writs under Article 32 and 139 of the Constitution in the wake of enforcement of Fundamental Rights. And it is the Article 226 which powers the High Courts to issue writs. The PIL, on the other hand, are the filed any individual or group pertaining to some sort of inconvenience faced by a number of people.
- In case of a writ, judges take evidence into account as the subject matter is a private interest. However, the action to be taken in case of a PIL is for a mass. It relates to a large number of people and hence is for the public welfare.
- Unlike writs, which have detailed pieces of evidence with quite a lot of technical aspects, PILs which involve comparatively narrower evidence.
- It is easier to file a PIL before the court as compared to the writs. The rule of locus standi is relaxed in case of public interest litigation. On the other hand, it is a complicated task to file a writ before a court, along with being expensive. This is because the rule of locus standi is followed in the case of writs.
Areas where a PIL can be filed
An aggrieved party can file a PIL against Union and/or Central government, municipal authorities or any private entity:
(a) If there’s inappropriate conduct of the government policy.
(b) In case of violation of the fundamental rights.
(c) To ask the court to direct municipal authority to complete a public duty.
(d) When there’s an abuse of human rights of the underprivileged people.
Can we treat Writ as a Public Interest Litigation?
When a writ petition is filed by an aggrieved party with a group or on behalf of a group, it can be treated as a Public Interest Litigation. It must, however;
- Be filed by an aggrieved person.
- Involve a question which affects a number of people and not just an individual.
- Contain a specific prayer asking the court to direct the state authorities to look into the matter.